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The Gambia: Truth Commission Calls for Prosecuting Ex-Officials

Government Should Initiate Procedures to Investigate Yahya Jammeh, Associates

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Ayeshah Jammeh

Victims’ Activist

He broke my family into pieces, and he broke so many families into pieces.


My dad went missing when I was just 14 years old. He was against things that Yahya had been doing. Sometimes I find it so hard to understand these things.


Fatoumatta Sandeng

Justice Activist

Some people liked Jammeh, loved him, and didn’t believe what people were telling them


Reed Brody

Human Right Watch

For 22 years, Yahya Jammeh was the president of Gambia. His rule was marked by the torture and killing of dissenters, the arrest of journalists, sexual violence, massive corruption.


In January 2017, Jammeh fled to Equatorial Guinea. Now, details of the Jammeh government’s crimes are coming out.


January 7, 2019



Lamin Sise


Good morning everyone. I call to order the first public meeting of the TRRC.


Essa Faal

Lead Counsel

This is an investigation into the mass atrocities that occurred in this country between 1994 and 2017.


Reed Brody

The testimonies that came out at the Truth Commission, the TRRC, have implicated Jammeh personally in many of the worst crimes.


Essa Faal

Yahya Jammeh told you what?


Sanna Sabally

Fmr. Junta Vice Chair

He told me clearly, “We have to execute the ringleaders.”


Essa Faal

And that is what you did?


Sanna Sabally



Fatoumatta Sandeng

Everybody is glued to their TVs, their phones, on Facebook just to hear from people who had killed people, from people who had tortured people.


Amadou Badjie

Fmr. Death Squad Member

Yahya Jammeh said, “Let’s kill these people and cut their flesh into pieces.”


Essa Faal

Cut them up into pieces?


Amadou Badjie

Cut them up into pieces.


Essa Faal

Like they would do meat.


Amadou Badjie



Fatoumatta Sandeng

The Gambia was a place where a dictator was operating undercover. We have also seen a lot of non-Gambians being killed in Gambia, being imprisoned for nothing.


Omar A. Jallow

Fmr. Death Squad Member

These people are mercenaries. The order from the Head of State, the former President Yahya Jammeh is they are all to be executed.


Reed Brody

One man survived to tell the story of the massacre of 59 West African migrants.


Martin Kyere

Survivor and Activist

I tell my guys that I have my hands off from the rope. And they said it’s God who wants to save you to tell the world what Yahya Jammeh has done to us and how he have killed us.


I hope justice will be served and the perpetrators will be brought before law.


Reed Brody

Jammeh organized a phony AIDS program which forced HIV-positive Gambians to give up their medicines and put themselves in his personal care,


Fatou Jatta

Survivor and Activist

One of the rules was that anyone that came for the treatment, they were told, you were using ARV [antiretroviral medicine], you will have to stop it.


Dr Assan Jaye


Some died no matter how much we tried. Why these people died there, it’s because of the length they stayed at the presidential treatment program.


Protected survivor of sexual assault

Yahaya Jammeh was very powerful and cunning. He targeted young women from vulnerable family and using state institutions and resources to ensure that women could not say ‘No.’


Fatou “Toufah” Jallow


There was a whole system. For him to exploit for him to rape.


He said, “Let’s see if you are a virgin.” And um…swear to God I was scared.


My justice most importantly includes a whole system change, so that we can prosecute this man, have our day in court. I want the next person after me to be a little less scared.


Reed Brody

Now, the truth commission will recommend that those behind the crimes be prosecuted and it will be up to the government to seek Jammeh’s extradition.


Neneh Cham


It is the last hope for many victims. Their fear every day is that it is all going to come to naught.

I urge this government to implement every single recommendation that will come out of this commission.


Ayeshah Jammeh

I just have one wish. I wish I will have the opportunity to face Yahya himself and then ask him why he had to kill my dad.


Fatoumatta Sandeng

The least that a victim needs is the truth. So, the testimonies and the stories of these people make people know who Jammeh really was. Justice for all those people means Jammeh should pay for everything that he had done.




(Banjul) - The Gambian Truth Commission’s call for the prosecution of former officials who committed the worst human rights abuses during the 1994-2017 rule of former president Yahya Jammeh should be followed by a process of criminal accountability, 11 Gambian and international groups said today.

On November 25, 2021, the Gambia Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission (TRRC) delivered its final report to President Adama Barrow. In a public statement, the Commission chair, Dr. Lamin J. Sise, said that it had “identified and recommended for prosecution those most responsible for gross human rights violations and abuses” and that "the individuals involved in perpetrating the violations and abuses must be held accountable for their crimes.” 

How to respond to the Commission’s recommendations has been a key issue in the Gambian elections scheduled for December 4. The TRRC said that it had set forth the names of those whose prosecutions it was recommending “expressly in the relevant sections of the report.” While it did not name the accused individuals in November 25, there is no doubt that Yahya Jammeh was at the top of that list, the groups said.

“Even if they didn’t reveal his name today, the Commission left no doubt that Yahya Jammeh was top among the former officials whose prosecutions it was recommending,” said Reed Brody of the International Commission of Jurists, who works with Jammeh’s victims. “This report begins the countdown to the day Yahya Jammeh will have to face his victims. Whether it’s in The Gambia or before an international court, it will be very difficult now for him to escape justice.”

The Commission said that it had found that the abuses had resulted in the death of “240-250 Gambians and non-Gambians at the hands of the State or its agents.”

Witnesses before the Commission, including those responsible for the abuses, tied Jammeh to the killing and torture of scores of political opponents, the unlawful killing of over 50 West African migrants, “witch hunts” in which hundreds of people were arbitrarily detained, and a sham treatment program that forced HIV-positive Gambians to give up their medicine and put themselves under Jammeh’s personal care. Survivors and former aides also said that Jammeh raped, and sexually assaulted women brought to him.

“The results are in,” said Baba Hydara, whose father, the newspaper editor Deyda Hydara, was assassinated in 2004 .“We have the truth. Now we need justice, justice for my father, justice for all of Jammeh’s victims, and justice for Gambian society as a whole.”

Since beginning public sessions in January 2019, the Commission heard from 393 witnesses, including former government insiders such as ministers, police and intelligence chiefs, and members of the notorious paramilitary “Junglers” unit, in addition to experts and numerous victims.

The TRRC also said it was making recommendations in terms of reparations, banning individuals from public service, the repeal of draconian laws and decrees still on the books, legal and institutional reforms, and training and capacity building for security and other personnel.        

According to the Act creating the Commission, the president must within 30 days transmit the full report to the National Assembly and the United Nations, as well as provide public summaries of the report. Within six months, it must issue a white paper containing its proposed plan to carry out its recommendations. The 11 groups urged the government, however, to publish the summaries and begin carrying out the recommendations immediately. In particular, they said, the government should begin planning now for a court to avoid delays in funding and establishing it.

Jammeh, who ruled The Gambia from 1994-2017, has lived in exile in Equatorial Guinea since his departure from Gambia in January 2017 following his loss to Adama Barrow in presidential elections. Jammeh had refused to accept the results of the elections. The president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang, has said that he would “protect” Jammeh from prosecution.

But Equatorial Guinea is bound under international law - including the 1984 UN Convention against Torture to which the country is a party - to either prosecute or extradite alleged torturers such as Jammeh who are on its territory. The groups expressed hope that other countries whose people were unlawfully killed or abused by the Jammeh regime would join The Gambia in seeking Jammeh’s trial.

“I have been fighting for 15 years for truth and for justice for my companions who were killed,” said Martin Kyere of Ghana, the sole survivor of more than 50 West African migrants from eight countries killed by the Junglers, allegedly on Jammeh’s orders. Kyere jumped into the forest from a moving truck carrying other detained migrants and returned to Ghana to rally the victims’ families, “Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and all the countries whose citizens were killed should support a criminal investigation of Jammeh for the massacre of the migrants.”

Three alleged accomplices of Jammeh have already been detained and are under investigation or  facing trial around the world under the legal principle of universal jurisdiction, including two former Junglers, Michael Sang Correa in the United States, and Bai L in Germany, as well as Gambia’s former interior minister, Ousman Sonko, in Switzerland.

The 11 groups calling for accountability include the Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA), AIDS-Free World, the Center for Justice and Accountability, EG Justice (Equatorial Guinea), the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, Solo Sandeng Foundation, TRIAL International, and the Women's Association for Victims' Empowerment (WAVE).

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